MS Diagnosis

Overview

There is no specific test to determine if a patient has MS. 2 When MS is considered a possible diagnosis, other potential causes need to be ruled out. As a result, patients may have to go through several different diagnostic tests before their condition is clearly identified, so diagnosis can be a long and frustrating process for patients. 3

Diagnostic Tools

There are several tools that can be used to diagnose MS and rule out other conditions. Along with a comprehensive medical history and neurologic exam, other tools that may be used include 2:

Spinal fluid analysis 4,5

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is obtained by doing a lumbar puncture or “spinal tap.” Lumbar punctures are generally recognized as safe, but a procedure like this can be scary for patients. Patients may experience headaches, back discomfort and pain, and bleeding near the puncture site.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 6,7

MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to offer a noninvasive way to detect central nervous demyelination. Some patients may be claustrophobic and as a result, an MRI can be a stressful experience.

Evoked potentials (EP) 8

EP tests measure the electrical activity of the brain. EP testing is harmless and generally painless for patients with MS.

Download these resources to help you work with your patients to manage their MS

Resources for Researching MS

MS Definitions